Multiage education starts with the idea that each child is different.
We start the school year with one uniform curriculum devised to teach one grade level. What we need to be successful is a uniform group of students. What we get is a diverse group, with each child having their own developmental timetable.
The Rationale for multiage
Multiage is a two or three year program that recognizes that each child is an individual, learning at a different rate and in a different style, and works in a setting that better reflects the diverse population of the real world.
In the years prior to school, children live in a multiage environment. They are not born with the ability to walk and talk, they have to develop these skills themselves. The adults facilitate and promote development with encouragement, smiles and signs of pleasure. Then when the school years are completed they continue as adults in a multiage environment.
But when these children go to school, even though they come to us at all different levels, we use only one criteria - age. Then we segregate them into age appropriate classrooms.
Multiage allows students to be responsible for their own learning and have ownership in what they learn. It helps create a helping atmosphere rather than a competitive one. Younger students exhibit more mature behaviors, learn from and emulate the older students; who in turn develop leadership skills and good self concepts. It also promotes the desire to be a life-long learner.
Students develop skills at their own rate while using their strengths
Each child has his/her own learning style that can be very specific or can encompass a mix of styles. These are each individual child's strengths and should be valued and celebrated. If a child feels that they are powerful in one area they will more easily be able to find success in others.
The possibility of their failure is decreased
Multiage creates an environment in which less able students exhibit more mature behaviors , learn from and emulate the more able students; who in turn develop leadership skills and better self concepts.
How the brain works,
All children's development happens approximately in the same order but not necessarily at the same time. The brain develops one layer at a time, providing for the natural progression of growth. Concepts are learned when the brain is ready to accept a new level of skills and concepts. If the brain is not ready and children are exposed to pressure to perform, they react by turning off. Much of the standard curriculum falls into the semantic memory category, where rote rehearsal is used.
A fact memorized for a test will seldom be remembered a week later. The brain makes some of its strongest links through concrete experiences. Also information embedded in music or rhyme is much easier to recall. Rap is an excellent venue, and you can use rhyme to teach spelling or punctuation rules.
"To every human brain speech comes naturally but reading is an unnatural act."
Learning Styles Learning styles are simply different ways of learning.
If children can't learn the way we teach them, then we have to teach them the way they learn. The basic perceptual modes of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic are ways of processing. These modes should be included in as many activities as possible.
Don't look at your class as different grade levels, but look at them as individuals on a continuum. If you're one grade you can still do the continuum.
For continuous growth assessment put together a continuum. List the combined learning competencies on a continuum, starting at the lowest level. Then, when you conference with students you can show them their continuum so they can see the progress they're making. You can also show them the next things that are on their continuum. This then becomes their challenge. The continuum really facilitates conferencing, as the parents not only can see what their child has done, but also what will be expected of their child in the future.
Activities suggested in Multiage Workshop:
What's Up Words
Materials: Seven letter cards, for each student, to make the words.
A peechee folder, cut in half and folded up at the bottom to make a pocket, and stapled at the edges
t h e r i w e
Play: Have students each hand out one of the letters to each student playing. eg. Using the letters above, one hands out the ' t ', another the 'h' and another two 'e's for each student. etc.
The students put their letters in the left hand pocket and make the words on the right.
The teacher, or a student, calls out the words to be made.
eg. Using the letters above the teacher would say, "Make the word 'the'."
1. Using words from the list, have the letters t, h, e, r, i, w, e,
handed out to each student. When the students are ready say,
"Make the word 'he' with your letters." "Now add a letter to the end
and make the word 'her'." Using the words below, have the students
make new words changing or adding a maximum of two letters at a time.
he, her, the, their, either, three, there, here, where, were, ewe,
we, wet, threw, with, white, write, wire, tire, hire, hit, it.
2. With the letters w, h, t, a, s, n, o, make the words :
an, on, no, now, own, town, won't, two, tow, who, how, show,
snow, sow, so, shot, hot, not, tan, than, hat, sat, as, at,
what, want, wash, was, saw.
Other combinations: i , e, b, g, g, s, t,
a, d, e, i, l, m, s,
a, i, i, o, d, d, n, t,
a, e ,e, c, l, r, s,
a, a, e, b, b, l, l, s,
a, e, e, l, p, s,
a, e, c, h, p, r, t,
a, e, e, h, n, r, w, y,
I will learn to Read I will learn to Spell